Investec Stallion Day - Summerhill Stud
Investec Stallion Day - Summerhill Stud

Investec Stallion Day

(Photo : Gareth Du Plessis)

“Catch our breath?

There’s catch-up to contend with first…”

Goodness, last week was a real sweat. The days entering the Vodacom Durban July are always frenetic at Summerhill, with visitors from all over the show, preparations for July Day and Investec Stallion Day, and then the Winter School Of Excellence. You’d think, with all that behind us, we’d be able to catch our breath for a moment, but that just isn’t the case.

Much of our Managements’ attentions are concentrated on these events, and so there’s catch-up to contend with first. Annet Becker and her team are industriously beavering on stallion recommendations for the forthcoming breeding season, we’re preparing ourselves for the arrival of the first foals (usually the last week of July), and the barren mares, which have occupied the heights and expanses of what we call Grasmere farm, are being prepared for their return to the lowlands.

For the past three or four months they’ve commanded the heights and the views of Giant’s Castle and the Drakensberg, and they’ve been “queens of all they’ve surveyed” in the pastures of Summerhill. It’s time now for them to get their teeth and their systems into some “green stuff”, so that as the days grow longer and the season approaches, their bodies and their minds get into breeding mode, in the belief that summer is nigh.

Of course, this isn’t the case (that summer is close), it’s just that the Jockey Clubs of the world have decreed that breeding seasons in the respective hemispheres, should start in the dead of winter. With such an unnatural system, we have to respond in an unnatural way, by stimulating summer as closely as possible.

In the Stallion Barn, Greig Muir has his horses in peak shape, something which Stallion Day demands of us anyway, and it won’t be long before he’ll be pre-breeding the stallions to check that all is well with their fertility and their health. He is also preparing himself for the arrival of Bankable, who’ll be joining Visionaire as one of the new kids on the block. We’ve heard from those connected with Bankable during his racing career, what a lovely animal he is, but it’s reassuring to hear from the veterinarians and the quarantine authorities who are attending to him now, that he’s the knock-out he’s reputed to be. Both he and Visionaire have predictably, attracted plenty of attention in the bookings department and they will be choc-a-bloc by the end of the month.

Tarryn Liebenberg and Michael Booysen’s team have their hands full with the best Ready to Run draft in a long time, with the first Mullins Bay and Ravishings pulling some superlatives from their jockeys. Igugu and Pierre Jourdan’s “one-two” in the “July”, was a timely reminder that this is the sale of all sales, and if this lot are as good as we think, there could be some fireworks come November.

On the “paper” front we’re working flat out to ensure that the 2012 edition of the Summerhill Sires Brochure and DVD reach the postman on time. Those visiting the farm over the Gold Cup meeting, will be the first to get their hands on it.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the next extract from this year’s brochure.